Regional development to reduce regional disparities
The Albanian Government is committed to achieving balanced regional development through measures and priorities in developing public infrastructure, services and institutional reforms at the regional level.
The Government has introduced a Regional Development Cross-cutting Strategy – as part of the National Strategy for Development and Integration – to address widening disparities among Albanian regions, establish a direct linkage between budgetary resources and regional development planning and align regional development policy to EU accession. However, considerable investment is needed in almost all regions.
The UN has been a strong advocate for regional development, providing assistance to building regional and local capacities for improved service delivery, planning and monitoring.
By 2005, all 12 regional governments of Albania formulated regional development strategies and reports. During this process, the UN promoted participatory community development to ensure people’s participation in local development initiatives and the decision-making process. The UN has also supported the Regional Councils of Kukes, Vlora and Fier in introducing DevInfo, development software for data collection and management for decision-making at the regional level.
The UN has been focusing assistance in Kukes, Albania’s poorest region where: unemployment scores twice as high as the national average, infant and maternal mortality rates are four to five times higher than EU averages, infrastructure is poor and largely not functional and a considerable part of the natural resources are affected by the presence of landmines.
Since 2002, the UN has supported the implementation of programmes in the Region to address mine clearance, promote voluntary surrender of small arms in exchange for development and strengthen local governance, and security sector reform.
In 2005, the UN consolidated its programmes into an Area Based Development Framework with the introduction of the Kukes Regional Development Initiative (KRDI), developed based on the priorities of the Kukes population and aligned with the Regional Development Strategy. KRDI provides support in improving rural and urban livelihoods through small capital investments in rehabilitation of community infrastructure. Priorities are identified through a wide participatory process involving the communities and local governments and focus on social services for the poorest and mine affected communities.
The UN also provided support to the drafting process of the national Regional Development Cross-cutting Strategy.
Combined UN agency support will assist the Government of Albania to realize its vision as set out in the Regional Development Cross-cutting Strategy: “a balanced and sustainable economic growth among the regions of Albania, in general and of mountainous and remote areas, in particular.”
The One UN Programme is committed to provide assistance in developing an effective national system for managing the national and EU regional development policy that is consistent with Albanian’s future management of the EU Structural Funds and with Albania’s gradual alignment with Chapter 21 of the Aquis Communautaire.
The UN will support development of national and local capacities and establishment of management structures for the implementation of regional policies, promotion of the Government’s proposed Disadvantaged Areas Development Programme and will prepare the country and its regions to comply with EU requirements and expectations for managing regional development support.